Issue 9 Autumn 2013
Education Outside School Home Education In Action
Project Wild Thing
How to stop it getting the better of you
Combining technology and ecology for a 21st Century education
How We Decided to Home Educate Children Should Have the Right to Vote Discuss!
Activity Ideas with Pumpkins!
A different perspective
Reconnecting kids with nature
Applying to Art College Plus activities, reviews, Childrenâ€™s Pages and more.....
Why EOS? As well as being the acronym of our title ‘Education Outside School’, Eos was also the name of the Greek goddess of the dawn. We think this is very apt, since often the discovery of home education feels like a new dawn for many families!
EDITORIAL POLICY Please supply articles as a Microsoft Word document and photos as jpegs with a minimum resolution of 300dpi. If the photos were not taken by you please ensure that you have permission to use them. If the photos feature people, especially children, please ensure that you have express permission for them to be used. The editors have the final say in deciding if contributions are printed and in which issue. There will sometimes be a need for editing contributions, for reasons of space, clarity, brevity, tone or otherwise.
Education Outside School Magazine EOS aims to provide an informative, sometimes controversial, but above all helpful and fun-to-read resource for current and potential HE families, in a positive, encouraging and upbeat fashion. Also to ‘normalise’ the whole concept of home education within mainstream society - to work, bit by bit, to demystify what home ed is about, how it works, and to have it accepted as the perfectly valid form of education that it is. As such, EOS is relevant to anyone with an interest in education. Whilst it may sometimes include articles that challenge preconceptions or systems, or encourage the reader to consider alternative points of view, the magazine does not seek to attack or criticise anyone for their choice of education for their child, whether they are in mainstream state education, the private sector, or home educating. EOS operates as a Social Enterprise. The social aims, as well as those above, are to provide a means of employment, freelance or otherwise, for home educating parents, in the form of writers, photographers, interviewers, journalists, salespeople; to provide a means for home educated young people to showcase their achievements and gain work experience by contributing to the magazine; to use any surplus profit for the benefit of the home educating community.
COPYRIGHT All attempts have been made to find copyright owners and are acknowledged if found; if you think yours has been breached please email us. PLEASE NOTE...... Education Outside School is an independent publication, not allied with any home education group or organisation. Any opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors. All contributions (including advertisements) have been accepted in good faith and have not been in any way endorsed by EOS, which cannot be held responsible for the consequences of responding to any of them. As with anything, please make your own checks first.
Lorena Hodgson and Jane Levicki
If you’d like to submit an article, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you’d like to advertise, please email: email@example.com To contact the Editors, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please remember that we cannot be responsible for the content on external sites. Any external sites linked to are for information or suggestion purposes only. If any of the links don’t work, please do let us know so we can put it right. Please consider purchasing from Amazon through one of the links here. This will mean that EOS will earn a small commission. This is just one of the ways that we can build up funds to take the magazine into print!
A Note about Photos
Internet Links in this Magazine Throughout the online version of this magazine all web addresses and email addresses should be hyperlinked - that is, if you hover the mouse over them the pointer will turn into a hand and you will be able to click to go straight through the the website. Similarly with books on the Reviews pages and in the References at the bottom of articles - you should be able to click them to be taken through to the appropriate page on amazon. co.uk.
Pictures are important to us - we know you don’t want a magazine full of just text! We try to use as many genuine home ed photos in the magazine as we possibly can. By that we mean photos of home educated children (or adults!) engaging in activities alone or in groups - either groups that consist solely of home educators or that feature home educated children being part of other groups.
The Front Cover of Issue 1 showed co-editor Jane’s daughter Anya fascinated by a chick they hatched
Sometimes, though, we don’t have an appropriate home ed photo we can use in which case we’ll use a photo available on a Creative Commons licence which allows us free use and we’ll credit the photographer.
If you have any photos that you think we could use we’d be very grateful to receive them. They’ll need to be at least 300dpi and, of course, you’ll need to guarantee that anyone featured in the photo has given their permission (or their parent/ guardian has). Contact us at email@example.com. We have specific criteria for front cover photos - they need to be portrait, very high resolution, and the composition needs to be such that we can overlay text without interfering with the picture. So far we are delighted that every front cover has been a genuine home ed photo! This month’s cover photo is by Lorena Hodgson.
Meet the Editors Jane been home educating for twelve years. She has three children at home aged 17, 14 and 12, who enjoy a variety of activities including gaming, photography, football, Latin, drama, guitar and more! The eldest already has some GCSEs/IGCSEs under her belt while the younger two are just dipping their toes into the realms of qualifications to see what the water’s like! She also has a son aged 20 who was home educated, has flown the nest and is happily employed. Outside of EOS you can find her on her blog at www.manydifferentdrums.blogspot.com Lorena’s children are 10 and 4, and she’s been interested in home education since her eldest was a baby; neither have been to school. The family are autonomous educators, following the chldren’s interests which are currently chickens, octonauts, lego and transformers. Lorena can also be found at www.lorena.co.uk
Meet Our Writers The writers in this issue are:
Jai was home educated herself and now home educates her own children. She also runs the Facebook group The Freedom Journey, which is for “Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Others who in general are interested in the Care and Freedom of children and alternative ways of Parenting and Educating.”
Paula Cleary Paula lives in Cambridgeshire where she home educates her four sons. She happily admits she is making it up as she goes along, and is deeply committed to freedom in education. Paula has also written for Juno magazine and keeps her own blog at www.feetonthegroundandheadintheclouds.blogspot.com Ross Mountney
Ross home educated her two daughters and is now a writer and blogger. You can find her on her very popular blog, www.rossmountney.wordpress.com
Katie lives in Manchester. She has a three year old son and they are just at the beginning of their home education adventure.
Jessica has home-educated her two children for the past 13 years. She is the author of “So, what’s wrong with school? 125 reasons not to send your kids.” and is currently working on a new book looking at the medical model of health.
Julie Reed Julie runs the company Portfolio-oomph. She is not a home educator but is experienced in mentoring and coaching students of all ages in their art career, particularly in the creation of portfolios and applying to colleges and is happy to connect with the home educating community.
We’d love to hear from you - experience not necessary! If there’s one thing a home educator likes to hear about it’s how everyone else does it. Whether you’re new to it or you’re an old hand, you can be sure that people are going to be interested in what you have to say! If you would like to write for us please get in touch! We are happy to receive articles and features on all topics related to home education and learning, including personal accounts. There’s no need to be excellent at grammar, punctuation and so on - editing and proofing is all part of the service! Go to our website, www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk to see our Writer’s Guidelines, and have a look at previous copies of the magazine to get an idea of the kinds of things we publish. If you have any other queries do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to Issue 9 of Education Outside School Magazine. Wow almost double figures! We hope you’re enjoying reading it as much as we’re enjoying putting it together. We think, judging from the lovely supportive messages we’re getting, that you are! As usual we have some great articles from our generous writers again, which we’re sure will interest and inspire you. The balance of screen time versus more natural pursuits is a topic often discussed amongst home eductors. In this issue, Paula reflects on how technology is so important to her home educating family, even with the love of the outdoors that they all feel. Meanwhile Lorena looks at Project Wild Thing which aims to encourage children to get out and connect with nature more. We hope that both of these will give you some ideas as you consider the issue for your own family.
In this issue we also feature some experiences of a couple of home educating families. One wrote to tell us of their experience of children coming late to reading, while the other talks about their recent meeting with the Local Authority representative. Both issues that we know will be of interest to many of you! EOS is here to support and encourage all home educators, whatever their approach. If you feel you have something to share, no matter how small, please do let us know. You never know who out there will benefit from your encouragement! Best wishes
Lorena and Jane
by Ross Mountney
by Jai Daniels-Freestone
‘How We Decided to Home Educate’ by Katie Clarke
Activity Ideas with Pumpkins
Spot the International Space Station
‘Children Should Have A Right to Vote’ by Jessica Mwanzia
‘EcoTechno Education for the 21st Century’ by Paula Cleary
‘Project Wild Thing’ by Lorena Hodgson
‘Applying to Art College’ by Julie Reed
Home Ed Experiences
Reviews and Recommendations
The Legal Bits
Websites and Groups
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire” William Butler Yeats
EOS Magazine is pleased to feature commercial advertising. We are especially happy to support home educators who wish to advertise their businesses as well as companies who feel that their product or service may be of interest to home educators. We don’t wish to make judgements about what our readers may or may not be interested in, so we don’t vet our advertisers as such, although we do take the time to explain what home education is and the myriad forms it can take so that they can better understand who our readers are. The appearance of an advert, therefore, cannot be taken as an endorsement. Please make sure you use your own judgement, as in all things.
home e h t ted to a l nity e u r m s w m Ne ing co t a c u ed
HESFES 2012 © www.flickr.com/people/59511456@N00/
HESFES 2014 Dates announced Saturday 26th July to Saturday 2nd August HESFES stands for The Home Educators’ Summer Festival - seven nights of campling, entertainment, activities and workshops. Now in its 17th year, in 2014 HESFES will again be held at Stonham Barns Leisure and Retail Complex in Suffolk. Not just for the home educated as children in school are very welcome too. One of the stars of HESFES 2013 was George Barnett, whose fantastic version of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ has received almost 8 million views on YouTube! See it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6NDY8FSr9M Details of what’s planned for next year are expected in early 2014. Tickets are planned to be on sale from early November. For more information and booking go to www.hesfes.co.uk
Do you have any news to share? Whether it’s some new development in the home education world, or a big success by a home educated young person, we aim to share it with you. Contact us at email@example.com
The Home Education Autumn Fair Saturday 26 October 2-5 pm, NW6 4SN This is the sequel to the Annual Home Education Fair but with a different emphasis, offering a variety of stalls, activities, the opportunity to find out more about home education, resources, recommended books, local activities and groups, home ed families to meet, a cafe and more. For more information go to https://sites.google.com/site/homeeducationfair/ 6
IGCSE English Courses for home-educators
by Catherine Mooney
Hi, I’m Catherine Mooney, a writer, English teacher, examiner and home‐educator. My friendly, colourful and approachable IGCSE English Language and Literature courses have helped nearly a thousand home‐educated children achieve excellent results, regardless of their ability or starting point. My IGCSE English Language course is guaranteed! So if you You can get more information and see course samples at don’t achieve at least a C grade www.catherinemooneytutoring.co.uk, or you can call me on 01952 pass, I will help you until you do! 605865 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beware! Words have powers! Can you learn the spells to master them?
‘It’s really fun!’ Zac (aged 9) ‘I’ve really enjoyed it! I can spot a simile like a hawk!’ (Mitch, aged 11) ‘My daughter doesn’t want to stop ‐ I have to ration her!’ (S.W.)
You won’t have come across an English course like Word Weavers before. It comes in a magic box (I told you it was different!) and is the most enjoyable way of learning English that has ever been invented. It’s written in the form of an exciting interactive story, in which a friendly Wizard shows your child the spells they need to control those impish little things called words. It is colourful and engaging, and covers everything your child needs to know about English from the age of 8 – 13.
There’s more information, including course samples, at www.catherinemooneytutoring.co.uk and you can call me on 01952 605865 or email at email@example.com www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk
Worry by Ross Mountney
Working your way round worry Education shouldn’t be worrying. It should be an inspirational, uplifting ongoing experience that enhances our lives. That’s the ideal anyway and it’s good to have ideals as a guideline to work towards. But it seems inevitable that the education of our kids is an area we worry over the most. And I suspect that many parents worry about home education enormously. How we deal with that is as important as the education we provide, because worried parents make worried children and the last thing we want is for them to think that education is worrying!
A few things to think about initially To help deal with worry here are a few things to think about. Firstly, it might help to know that parents with children in school worry just as much! In fact when ours were in school we worried more than we ever did once they were home educating. So home education isn’t necessarily more worrying than school education!
Secondly, worry is usually about a future – an outcome - that may never happen. It’s as daft as worrying that our house might fall down which is highly unlikely, missing the enjoyment of living in our house meanwhile! Worrying about your child’s future is missing the opportunity to make their life now as good as it can be, as enjoyable, as uplifting and as happy as is possible. Making good days now will create a good future. Thirdly worry is just a habit of thinking, not about what’s actually happening. And habits can be changed. Better still, don’t get into the habit of worrying. Instead keep acting on your current intention; to give your children a happy experience with learning. And don’t worry that if they’re happy they can’t be learning; worrying that you’re having far too nice a time learning for it to be education! (I did that). Now we’ve come out the other end of our home educating days, experience tells me this is absolute rubbish. In fact the opposite is true. If your children are generally happy in their daily lives, busy, and getting a variety of experiences, then this will show them that education and learning can be an enjoyable experience. If they understand that, they are more likely to remain engaged with learning throughout their lives which will help them grow and develop throughout their lives.
This doesn’t mean that they’ll be happy all the time or with everything they will need to do, or not have to confront challenges. Of course they will. But generally, if life is good, they overcome the more challenging bits.
What if it goes ‘wrong’? Worry is also founded in our thought that the education we’re providing might go ‘wrong’ – whatever that is! This is just ‘wrong’ thinking, not ‘wrong’ education. It is highly unlikely that what you’re providing will go wrong. This is because I imagine you are someone who thinks about it on a daily basis – if you weren’t you probably would be HEing in the first place. As a parent who thinks about what they’re doing you will be constantly assessing what you’re doing, making appropriate changes and thinking about the needs of your child. This is the ‘right’ kind of approach to take. You’re doing it right! Just get your thinking in order and the home education you’re providing will follow.
Comparisons with school One of the ways in which our thinking becomes warped and creates worry is when we make comparisons. It seems inevitable that we compare what our children are doing to what school children are doing.
School operates on an inhibiting and destructive structure that disregards individual needs and creates ‘failures’ out of children who don’t fit. Now I’m not saying that structure itself is inhibiting – we all usually introduce some kind of structure into our family life to help us function effectively. But it’s usually a structure that fits our needs. School operates structures that fits school needs to make kids fit specific things at specific times, without regard for whether the child needs it. Some children read at four. Some don’t read till they’re fourteen. This is not success or failure it’s just the nature of kids. Home educating gives you the opportunity to make your child’s education fit your child, not some set of rules that have nothing to do with children’s development. It’s best not to make comparisons. Keep your focus on what you’re trying to achieve with your child when it’s right for them and not when it’s right for others or other agendas.
Worrying about what others think Which brings me to ‘others’ and worrying what others think. It’s easy to fall into the trap of worrying about what others are thinking. This especially happens if you’ve got family members or friends who don’t understand your approach to home educating. I fell into it; it seemed the only time anyone called was when my kids were either covered in mud or hanging out of a tree. They never called when the kids were studiously sitting at a table completely engaged in a more obviously educational activity.
Now I think kids get a lot from climbing trees; as well as obvious skills, strength and physical development, they have to make judgements, solve problems and the best thing of all it gives them is confidence – with confidence they can tackle anything in life. But other people would say – but it’s not education is it? And if I concerned myself all the time with what other people would say – usually out of their own ignorance – I would have worried myself to a frazzle and spoiled my children’s educational experiences.
Counteracting your worry Worry only rushes in when you’re not thinking clearly. We don’t think clearly when we’re tired, overwhelmed, thinking about others and what they’re doing, or swaying from our own intentions. To counteract this: • Look after yourself, planning in some time for you as well as the children
Because many of them didn’t look educational. For example lying on a beach reading didn’t look educational, nor studying history actually on the site of a castle, or science in the park. But I knew they were learning and growing and gaining knowledge and skills all the time. As your children will be through what they do. So it is up to you to focus on what you know is happening, and not other people’s ignorant judgements about what is happening.
• Keep in contact with people who support what you do
Keeping a record or evidence
• Keep short records of some sort about your activities
Keeping your own record or list of what you’ve been doing helps you look back over all your children have experienced and gives you confidence that they are achieving. It also helps if you choose to send a report to the Local Authority. The trouble is we get so hung up about evidence of learning that the learning itself becomes secondary. And much of the real learning has nothing tangible to show for it anyway, because it’s action that educates more than writing about it. So rather than ‘make’ your child write or ‘achieve’ something just for the sake of providing proof, just get on with interesting activities and think about other ways of providing a record of all the fabulous things they do. You can photograph them, keep a record yourself, or scribble a list, an online diary.
Don’t worry about time The other thing we worry about is time – usually all the time our kids spend playing or lolling about in front of one screen or another when other kids are at school for six hours. Believe me those other kids are certainly not working for six hours. In fact I once worked out that the average amount of valuable engaged learning time a child had in a school day was about ten minutes! Much of their day was just filled by incidentals. Children who are learning at home have the opportunity to be much more focussed than when in school. You can cover concepts much more quickly which gives a lot more free time and time for outings, recreational pursuits or self amusement. Don’t worry about this amount of time. Encourage them to be diverse in their use of it. But don’t worry they’re doing nothing. Kids sitting in classrooms or shuffling round room to room are doing nothing for a great percentage of the day. If your children are playing or gaming, as long as their pursuits are varied and they get out, they will be developing skills and intelligence.
• Focus on your own intentions not those of others • Reappraise your own plans and intentions (they change as the kids change so this is needed regularly) • Keep your objectives short term rather than looking too far ahead, and focussing on what your kids are achieving
Remember worry is just a habit of thinking and habits can be changed. Each day your child will achieve something. It might be incredibly small and unnoticeable. But if you look back to a week, a month or a year ago, you will see that developments will have occurred. But otherwise keep your focus on the now, on making this day a good one. Because one day you will look back and all those days pieced together will have made a good education. I’m in the reassuring position of now being able to look back on mine and the home educated children that they grew up with. Through a diversity of approaches ranging from a school style structure to complete autonomy they have all developed into intelligent, mature, articulate, skilled, knowledgeable, well-educated young people. I’m confident that there’s no need to worry that yours won’t do the same.
Ross Mountney Author of ‘A Funny Kind Of Education’ and ‘Learning Without School: Home Education’.
Good Behaviour by Jai Daniels-Freestone Jai Daniels-Freestone was home educated herself and now home educates her own children. She also runs the Facebook group The Freedom Journey, which is for “Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Others who in general are interested in the Care and Freedom of children and alternative ways of Parenting and Educating.”
fter reading a thread on my Facebook group the other day about children’s behaviour, I started thinking about my own children and my expectations of them. In my mind, good behaviour is greatly related to the parents of the children, but nothing is more divisive a subject as children’s behaviour. For me, I see my children as very separate from myself, with their own feelings and opinions as any other person in my life. They are not always obedient, they put their wishes across, they have opinions that differ from mine, they argue their point and they very much have their own personalities and thoughts. This does not always lead to a harmonious household, especially when it comes to things like television or computer games. My question to myself is, what do I expect of them as a parent? What is good behaviour?
Because of my upbringing within Home Education I realise I have very different expectations of my children to some other parents. When my eldest son went to school this was very obvious. I expected my son to have his own opinions in life and I respected them. I expected that there would be debate about rules, I expect him to have his own ideas on his life and what happens. This was very different from all the other mothers that surrounded me in the playground. They seemed to expect a certain pattern of behaviour around them, but a different pattern of behaviour when their mothers/parents were not watching, or were not present. To me this seems a very unnatural way of behaving for a child. I expect my son to be the same in his behaviour when he is around me than when he is not, for I want him to be feel confident enough to be himself in any given situation. My children are not always happy, neither am I. My children do not always want to share their most precious possessions, but then again, neither do I. My children do not always wish to have company, but then I like some alone time also. In short, I do not expect anything from my children that I do not expect from myself. Being children, they may not always deal with a difficult situation with tact or discretion, but that is where I come in as their Mum, to teach them about different kinds of people and to help to show them a tactful or peaceful solution. My feeling when I look around at society is that children are not given enough space to be people, to have the emotional range and depth of an adult. They are not allowed to feel hurt, anger or indeed happiness without someone taking offence and saying that they are badly behaved. Maybe if we stopped our initial opposition to a child’s behaviour and really thought about what we are asking of them, society might be a better place for children to grow up. At the same time as affording my children the space to have the full range of emotions that I have as an adult, I also acknowledge that they are children without the intuition, experience and tact that life has taught me. Explaining what is happening in any given situation is surely preferable to constantly telling a child off for reacting in the most natural of ways TO THEM. Children are very instinctive and have a great and very natural view of justice. If something is wrong they will react in a way that reflects this; they aren’t being naughty, they just lack the vision and experience that we as adults have accumulated in life. So, to answer the question, bad behaviour is very much in the eye of the beholder and I try very much to accept that we may not always see eye to eye, but that the love and time I have with my children will teach us both about the world and remind me of my childhood innocence.
How We Decided to Home Educate By Katie Clark
ome education was not something we’d ever really considered. Not really. There were days of course, when I’d come home from work after 12 hours of teaching, marking and what I considered to be largely pointless planning and box-ticking to find my little boy asleep again and wish I could be with him more. At the time though, the solution was to work less and spend more time with him in his early years.
The more I thought about this, the more I became convinced that children learn best when they are happy, when they learnt in their own way and at their own pace. I read UNICEF’s happiness survey which was published in 2007. I was astonished by what I found. The UK was found to have the unhappiest children out of the richest 21 countries in the world. The unhappiest. I looked at the countries where the children seemed happier and noticed that they started formal schooling later, that they spent more time with their families and that this was seen as a good thing by the state and by society as a whole. There seemed less commercial pressure on children, less performance pressure. They were free to be just children. I read further UNICEF reports and again, we fared badly. Our children, when questioned, were asking for more time with their families – not for more toys, more gadgets and more time at child minders before and after school everyday – but for more time with their families.
I relished those days. I still taught, but only part time; the rest of the week we were free to explore the woods and search for wildlife; to make pirate ships on the couch with billowing sheets as sails; to splash in puddles and act out our made up stories. Anything we wanted to really. And my, how the little one flourished. I hadn’t noticed when I was never there, but him being in childcare full time had left him down-hearted, miserable and actually unwilling to spend time with me. All I did was wish, if he was awake when I got in, that he would go to bed quickly as I would still have books We continued as usual; playing and having fun to mark and lessons to plan. After that all ended and together until the time came to apply for a school each day was filled with new delights, new experiences nursery place. We applied to the authority and were and adventures, he blossomed into such a happy little quietly annoyed about the so called “choice” system. boy; a happy little boy who was making leaps and We could select three schools in the authority which we bounds in his learning and development. Because he would be happy to send our child to and if, but only if, was interested, because he was engaged. And more the authority could offer us a place at more than one importantly, because he was school, then they would take confident to ask questions and our preferences into account. The Early Years curriculum is to explore in an environment We still applied of course, it supposed to be child led, but is where he felt supported and was the done thing and waited loved. with baited breath in April for it really? It’s still a class-room
with selected areas for play, with set times for phonics and “playtime” and stories.
the letter to arrive. We were lucky. We discovered that we had been allocated a place at a school of our choice. Yet we weren’t elated. Uneasiness seemed to hang in the air. Did we really want to send our 3 year old to school full time? To wear a uniform and sit quietly in an assembly each morning? Yes there’d be playing, yes the Early Years curriculum is supposed to be child led, but is it really? It’s still a class-room with selected areas for play, with set times for phonics and “playtime” and stories. I knew as a teacher myself that schools and staff are so restricted in allowing children to develop their own interests and I didn’t think I wanted my happy, enthusiastic little boy with a passion for learning being told he couldn’t dress up as a dinosaur if he wanted to because in the dress up box this week was zoo animals. So we declined the place. We said we would just re-apply for reception, let him spend another year with his mummy. He wasn’t of statutory school age, he just wasn’t going to school nursery. He would attend a private nursery for 15 hours while I was in school but the rest of the time, he would be with me. And we would play. We thought no more about it until one day, I was teaching and discovered a pile of letters in my register. Letters from the authority which stated that children, including school nursery children under no legal obligation to be in school, would be denied any request for absence in school time and that if parents chose to take them out anyway, they could be charged
£100. For a family wedding, for a holiday, for a trip to the sea-side which would teach children much more about the beach than looking at a picture in a book. I was fuming. That night, we discussed how ridiculous it was and again, thought no more about it until a few weeks later, we went camping in Wales. On the way home, we stopped at a water fall where we spent hours examining the ferns, talking about why the trees formed a canopy over the river in places, listening to the babbling of the brook and the crashing of the falls. Would he ever get this in school? Excursions are few and far between because of the reams of paper work and risk assessments involved for teachers, but if authorities weren’t going to allow children any time out of school, what were children going to learn? To sit quietly and read about waterfalls. To watch videos of rivers on youtube. How sad. It was like a light had turned on in our minds. From that day, we scoured the internet to find local groups; we checked our legal rights, we danced at the endless possibilities and marvelled at how much there is for home educated children in the community to do. Our journey has barely begun; our toes only just in the water but we are ready to take that plunge!
Katie Clark lives in Manchester and is at the very start of her home education journey with her 3 year old son.
Activity Ideas OK, we know it’s a bit predictable for this time of year, but we do love a bit of pumpkin carving! It’s pretty creative as it stands, but how about these ideas to give some added value?
When buying your pumpkins, consider going somewhere other than the supermarket. A local market would be a good alternative, while we like to go to a farm a couple of miles away. There’s a much wider choice and a distinct lack of standardisation! My daughter likes to choose a really ugly and misshapen fruit as she feels it adds to the Hallowe’en ambience. You could try green, yellow and white pumpkins, or even choose to carve a turnip, which was the original tradition. The conversation can also turn to the reasons why you might want to buy from an independent retailer instead of a large multi-national, including perhaps concepts like ‘food miles’.
For more information: www.foodmiles.com www.kew.org/plant-cultures/schools/schools_food_miles. html Or, is there a Pick Your Own Pumpkin farm near you?
Why do we carve pumpkins? Investigate the history of pumpkins, the link to the Celtic festival of Samhain and more. Try www.pumpkin-carving.com for information on this and much more. How creative do you want to be? It can take quite a bit of thought, since you have to factor in not only what it will look like, but how your design will stay together - you have to build in some joins or the middle of your picture will simply drop out. You can search for ‘pumpkin designs’ on the internet. Try www.pumpkinmasters.com for ideas and patterns to download. 14
! e s r u o c f o . . . g in v car
You might be able to find one publicised in your area, also some are listed on this site (covers the UK as well as www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org the USA)
with Pumpkins h! s le f e h t y a w a don't throw Use it for pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins or even pumpkin bread! It’s very versatile.
Try making Pumpkin and Ginger Tea Bread from the recipe here: www.flickr.com/photos/ohmeaghan/
For more recipes, try www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org Or Pumpkin Pie from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pumpkinpie_70659
keep those seeds
Delicious roasted and salted for a different snack. They’re full of zinc as well as many other nutrients.
Grow your own
There are lots of ways to roast them, for example: www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/roastpumpkinseeds_70660
OK, it’s a bit late to suggest that for this year, but perhaps you could put it in your diaries for next year....maybe using some of the pumpkin seeds from this October!
Spot the International Space Station Now that the darker nights are drawing in earlier, it’s an ideal time to think about a bit of night sky watching. So how about having a look for the International Space Station?
What is it? Whizzing around in a low Earth orbit, the ISS is a habitable space station serving as a research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and more.
How Can I See It? The ISS appears as a very bright object in the night sky so it’s quite easy to spot on a clear night if you know when to look! To find out when it will be orbiting over your part of the world, go to http://spotthestation.nasa.gov/ sightings. Put in your country and region and select your nearest city. This will display a list of upcoming sightings, with date and time. Look down the list and pick one that’s convenient for you to stand outside and watch! If you can, try and pick one of the highest - this means that it will be appearing high in the sky so you are less likely to have trees or houses in the way. It also means that it will be visible for longer. Get outside about 10 minutes before the ISS is due to appear. Find west - the ISS will rise towards the west and arc over the sky towards the east. If you want to be more precise, the website gives accurate measurements, but just looking west should be good enough. When it appears, the ISS will look like a large, bright star moving smoothly across the sky. It takes just 3 or 4 minutes before it disappears again, so it’s quite fast and should be obvious. 16
Who’s up there? The first crew arrived in November 2000 and it has been continuously inhabited since then. There are always six people on board. Currently these are three Russians, an Italian and two Americans, including one woman, Astronaut Karen Nyberg.
What else can we do? There are loads of ways you can extend this to other activities. NASA’s website has a mine of information, photos, videos and more. www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research ‘Space Station for Kids’ is a good page to start with This has videos on some of the many experiments taking place as well as resouces that you could use yourself. It also has links to the social media channels the ISS is using - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr - which can help you connect and get more information. Karen Nyberg in particular posts very interesting videos on her Facebook page.
Rec i and pes, ac t out puzzle ivities s. P and kee rint p!
We’ve kept the puzzle page black and white to save ink when you print it out.
G R W N
Q G N
E G D
R W C
tyre lights bell Words chosen by Xander, age 10
If you would like to provide a list of words for a future wordsearch, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
CHILDREN’S PAGES www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk
Secret Chocolate Cake Hide this page, make the cake, and get your family to guess the unusual ingredient!
INGREDIENTS: • • • • • • • •
75g cocoa powder 180g plain flour 2tsp baking powder 250g caster sugar 3 eggs 1tsp vanilla extract 200ml sunflower oil Plus the secret ingredient find this in the instructions!
METHOD: Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. secret bit: whizz a 250g pack of cooked beetroot (not the one in vinegar!) and add it to the bowl, then add the other wet ingredients and mix well. Clean the bowl you whizzed the beetroot in if it’s plastic and has stained a little red, then use oil to clean it. Pour into a greased 20cm round tin, bake for 50 minutes at 160 C. To “grease” a tin, use an old butter wrapper, rubbing the last bits of butter around the tin. (or use a piece of kitchen roll and a bit of butter or margarine). I then add a little flour and shake it around the tin to lightly cover it all. This helps cakes slip out better when they’re cooked, and cooled. Though non-stick pans are available, this will still help. That’s it! A simple recipe, adapted from the Pit Stop cafe in Southwold.
CHILDREN’S PAGES 18
by Ali Botting
Yo u w i l l n e e d : 20 small things small drinks bottle lentils and rice big bowl funnel As you can see from the photos, little beads, charms, a sparkly sequin, a button are all things that will work for this fun game. A penny is a good idea too; it is the hardest thing to find when you’re done! Instructions: • Gather a few things, about twenty, and then write a list of them! Print it onto label, or write really carefully onto a label or two, so that whoever you give the finished bottle to has a list to look at. • Pour lentils and rice into a large bowl, no more than half fill it - imagine how much might be needed for your bottle. • Using the funnel, and keeping the bottle over the bowl, scoop up some lentils/rice and then put the funnel in the bottle neck and let the mix go in. • Do this until the bottle is about two thirds full.
CHILDREN’S PAGES www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk
by Ali Botting
Add the little bits and pieces. Give the bottle a little shake to watch them disappear! When they’re all in, add a little extra rice and lentils to the bottle, but don’t fill it completely - there needs to be space for everything to move around when you’re searching. Put the label on, and make sure the top is on well - add some tape around the top to be sure it won’t come off. That’s it! Your finished bottle should look like this:
Have a go yourself; how long does it take you to find the penny? Give it to someone else to try. These would be fun at a party, as a take home gift perhaps. Ali Botting is a home educating mum in Norfolk. She adapted this idea and has had many more ideas for fun and easy craft activities! She is starting a business supplying kits for craft activities like this, so get in touch by email if you want to be first to know when they’re ready to send out. AliBotts@googlemail.com
CHILDREN’S PAGES 20
Children Should Have A Right to Vote By Jessica Mwanzia
n England and Wales, children aged 10 are deemed criminally responsible and can go on trial in adult courts for serious offences. Yet it is not until they are 18 that they are deemed to be capable of having a say in the laws to which they are subject. Arguments against children having a vote don’t hold water when the same arguments could be used against many adults. Saying children will vote for the parties that give the most sweeties, ignores the fact that many adults vote for their own personal best interests. This does not disqualify them. Arguing that children are not yet rational beings should let them off the hook over crimes, but many adults are not rational either: they vote for the handsome guy, the sweet talker, without ever looking at policies and evaluating them.
This could be a good idea for a discussion with older children. Ask them what they think; can they think of pros and cons? Would they themselves be interested in being able to vote? If yes, what would they look for in a party’s policies? If not, why not? If you have this discussion with a few older children, the conversation could go all kinds of ways! Perhaps this article will give you some ideas of questions to ask to change the direction of the talk, or keep the conversation flowing! Or, if your children don’t like to discuss, perhaps they could simply read it themselves. It may not inspire them immediately, but you never know when they’ll be reminded of it and make further connections!
But children will be influenced by their parents and their peers and will be easily manipulated, say some. This seems to assume that adults are immune from these influences. Many people simply vote for the party their parents did. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children’s views should be taken into account in everything that affects them. Having a vote would enable them to voice those views in the same way adults do. Children voting would focus policies and politicians on the needs and wishes of children to enable us to become a truly child-friendly society. Examples of democratic schools, with pupils and teachers deciding the rules together, such as Summerhill*, do not lead to chaos and rebellion. On the contrary, by having a say in how things are run, there is a greater commitment to the community. If the consequences of children’s political participation is the reform or radical overhaul of schools, or even their abolition, then that is the message we must hear. If children vote in their millions to do away with homework, we need to acknowledge their right to leisure. Political participation in the young could be an antidote to political apathy later on. Being involved in decisions that affect you is a right for all, no matter how young. * Summerhill School www.summerhillschool.co.uk
Jessica Mwanzia has home-educated her two children for the past 13 years. She is the author of “So, what’s wrong with school? 125 reasons not to send your kids”. http://sowhatswrongwithschool. wordpress.com/ She is currently working on a new book looking at the medical model of health. www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk
EcoTechno Education for the 21st Century By Paula Cleary
he question of how children ought to be educated, and what skills they will need for their lives is different for every new generation, since the world keeps moving on. In the 21st century, it seems that life is changing faster than ever before. Technology and innovation is driving big changes on our planet– and there is a fear that we are running too fast ahead of ourselves. The ‘slow’ movement is a grass roots rebellion against all this fast activity, and the industrialisation that has caused us to become so alienated from our production processes, and less patient about what we can get and how fast we can get it. It’s easy in the face of this fast-pace runaway world to want to hide under a rock and pretend we live in an earlier age, a somehow gentler time, when everything was slower, more peaceful, more wholesome. When this ‘golden’ age was, I’m not exactly sure. But we hanker for it no less. I do not blame educationalists and parents for trying to keep their children in an innocent bubble in the face of all this change, as so much of it is ‘progress’ for the sake of it, and not all of it is positive or wholesome. I understand the wistfulness of belonging to a more 22
sensible age, of providing a more wholesome, naturebased curriculum and acting as if computers aren’t important, relevant or helpful to humanity. I personally baulk at the academy school model of every child having an iPad on their desk as they prepare to become perfect consumers and workers as the government and industry would like to mould them. But as much as I would like to live in such a bubble, I can’t bring myself to turn my back so completely on technology. I like what technology has brought to my world and I wouldn’t want to deny my children the benefits they may find for themselves as they grow older. Pete earnt the family a living working independently from home - on a computer. Had he been away at work every day, I am not sure I could have taken on the challenge of home educating our children on my own, and I’m not sure we would now be having a fifth child! I am immensely grateful for the closeness our family have been able to achieve and that he can be such a hands-on Dad – thanks to computers. Without digital technology I’m not so sure I would have become a writer, since it was in the platform of
writing on Yahoo forums that I had my first audience, and the encouragement from those members to keep writing. This magazine itself is in a digital format – something for which I am grateful, since the cost of producing and distributing paper magazines right now is not viable for small independent publishers. Computers have made it so much easier as a home educator to know about events happening across a wider geographical area than we would otherwise be aware of. It’s also been a great tool for watching documentaries online, really informative YouTube videos, listening to podcasts on all kinds of subjects, foreign radio stations far across the globe, or brilliant, thought-provoking talks like those on TED. Via different forums, Facebook groups, blogs and websites the world has opened up for me and has informed, educated, challenged and shaped the kind of person I have become in the last few years. And so it will be for my kids I am sure. They’re not into the realms of things like Myspace and Facebook yet, but I’m happy to keep them away from those types of places a bit longer, until they’re ready to handle the kind of banter and posts that happen on there. For now, they’re content to play Minecraft and other similar games, and going forwards Pete intends to teach the boys some basic programming. Incidentally, Minecraft has been a currency which has opened up many conversations with kids at the park, or out and about, or during an awkward first meeting. It brings the children a lot of pleasure to construct entire worlds and do something that in real life wouldn’t be possible – and having other kids to do it with has been a real source of fun and relaxation for the boys. So is it possible to be a techno junkie and a nature lover too? Why not? There’s nothing that makes us feel more alive than having the wind in our hair, dirt under our nails or being half-way up a tree. We enjoy walks in different environments, grounding ourselves with the purifying energy and charge of being outdoors, messing about in the garden or on the beach. We love to visit nature reserves, to learn the names of birds and creatures in the wild. Finn wants to keep bees with his Dad and they’ve been researching it together. Herbie has a subscription to Kids National Geographic magazine, and last year we slept outdoors in a den that we built on a Bushcrafting weekend with the FSC. Running wild in the woods, loving nature and ecology are just a part of life for us that is not negotiable. We’ve seen wild flamingos in France, hung out at Vulture feeding time in the Andalucian mountains, and seen up close that nature isn’t always pretty - like the time we found a huge dead fish on a beach in Cornwall that had been cut off by the tide. We’ve made journeys to the Eden Project and Natural History Museum. At home, we grow our own veg and feel the rhythms of nature and the seasons as part of normal life. Wilderness is in our veins and always will be, but technology has truly enriched and enhanced our kids’ education and experience of the world so far. I couldn’t imagine our lives without it, and hope that going forwards the boys learn ways in their future lives to harness it for the good and make the world a little better for it. www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk
Project Wild Thing
Reconnecting Kids with Nature by Lorena Hodgson
Project Wild Thing has the above title, ‘Reconnecting Kids with Nature’, as its heading. It’s what David Bond, the Director of this new film is very keen to do. He’s not the only one. I have read many pieces about this phenomenon (I list some further reading links at the end of this article.) As you can read on Project Wild Thing’s website, many organisations are saying that childhood is not what it was; there is less freedom and too many children stay indoors watching a screen (be it TV or computer). This film is a culmination of meetings between organisations such as the National Trust, Wildlife Trusts and the Eden Project. I’d also recommend reading Tim Gill’s website, rethinkingchildhood.com, to find out more about how our children’s childhood is different to ours and to our parents’ and grandparents’ childhoods. Tim Gill wrote “No Fear: growing up in a risk-averse society”, about the changing nature of childhood, children’s play and how they spend their free time. He is well respected, giving talks around the world. He recommends the Project Wild Thing film as: “engaging, moving, thoughtful, and refreshingly irreverent”. He has a short excerpt on his site (click here), as do Project Wild Thing themselves. It would be interesting to find out what other home educators think about this project, and projects like it. As an “unschooling/child-led” home educating family, we think our children have this freedom already; we are lucky to live in a rural area, with space around us, and we perhaps have more time than schooling families, so all in all I think we already do what these people are advocating, and so I find it sad that such projects have to exist. I believe they are doing the right thing, that nature is a great teacher, and we can all benefit from fresh air, exercise and the “living in the moment” that being outside makes us do. I wonder if this idea comes naturally to home educators, or if it’s just me?! Of course there are schooling families who use the outdoors when they can, but this is a magazine for those outside the education system, and I wondered if it were more prevalent amongst those families, and if so, why? 24
Project Wild Thing is a film led movement to get more kids (and their folks!) outside and reconnecting with nature. The film is an ambitious, feature-length documentary that takes a funny and revealing look at a complex issue, the increasingly disparate connection between children and nature.
They’re doing a great job of promoting the play aspect of education; the outdoors and the freedom they advocate for children. I’d like to see the film, so will be contacting them to see if I can put it on somewhere, as it’s not at a cinema local to me. It would be great for all home educators to see, though, as if they’re already living this kind of life with their children, then it will hopefully feel like validation and support of what they’re doing. It helps me explain why I home educate, as I can point to “respected research” to show that this kind of childhood is what is being recommended by a number of people! I would certainly look to find schools or youth groups to invite to it though, as anything that promotes a more natural childhood for all children can only be a good thing in my book.
© Wildlife Encounters Ltd
The Project Wild Thing website is looking good too, there’s a part called “Wildtime” where you can make suggestions as to how to be a Wild Thing – even for only 10 minutes! It looks like a useful resource. So I really wish this project the best of luck in reaching as many as possible and giving everyone the confidence to get outside as I know that once you get there, it makes a big difference to your outlook on life; the fresh air clears your head; the children find it a natural playground and soon work out what to do. It’s free entertainment, too.
Go to www.projectwildthing.com to find out more (see if there’s a showing of the film near you); and don’t forget the Woodland Trust’s children’s website, www.naturedetectives.org.uk which has absolutely hundreds of ideas of what to do - my favourite idea is to build collages/sculptures out of what you can find; leaving them there for other visitors to see and enjoy! Older children could practise their photography, anywhere out and about can be a fascinating subject for all types of artwork; if you’re really organised, take a tripod for your camera; paper and paints if that’s what you enjoy, perhaps have a ready made backpack to grab when you think you might be going somewhere interesting? We have an “adventure bag” with identification books, a compass, notepad and pencils; crayons for tree bark rubbings and anything else I put in it from time to time. But your foray into nature doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale. We went out last week, ended up at a beach, we only stayed for half an hour, but it was perfect. You don’t have to plan a whole day out to enjoy time with nature and just half an hour feels like you’ve had a whole day relaxing, well worth it. I especially enjoy going A lovely idea is to build collages or sculptures at this time of year, well, any time of year that’s out of whatever you can find, then leave them not the summer holidays! Obviously you need to there for other visitors to see and enjoy think about wrapping up warm, but a deserted beach or woodland in colder weather is beautiful and still just as enjoyable, especially with a flask of tea, and a takeaway on the way home! If you’re really organised, you can use a slow cooker to make a stew in the morning and come home to a ready meal, but that’s another article altogether! Do let us know if you think that home educators already know this stuff; or lean towards it in some way that schooling families don’t. Perhaps schooling families just don’t have the time these days, and so anything that encourages people and helps them to get outside, even for 10 minutes, and to allow their children to learn through play, must be worth championing, so look out for your local showing of this film and tell all your family and friends! Let us know what you think, and your review could be chosen for the next issue! Links and Further Reading Project Wild Thing:
Great site for identification:
Further reading: www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/07/education-children-not-feral-enough www.rethinkingchildhood.com (Tim Gill’s site - he reviews Project Wild Thing here) Interesting program on BBC iplayer, showing how to have more plants helping wildlife in your garden, good for children to see: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0388kfs/Gardeners_World_2013_Episode_18/
Applying to art college? By Julie Reed of Portfolio-oomph
he decision to pursue a creative career/future can be quite a difficult one if your child enjoys and is achieving well in a number of subjects. However, the opportunities within the curriculum have become increasingly difficult for ‘making the grade’ in art whilst having an A level in art or design satisfies entrance requirements of many art colleges, this is not always the most advantageous route for students. Consequently, many potential students and importantly, parents, get turned off and see going to art college as a risky business. From attending careers events, parents often question ‘what job will they get after they graduate?’ It is a real challenge to convince them that studying art is of great value and that there are huge career opportunities out there. So what does this mean for your home educated child? As a parent who is not an artist or working in a creative field you might find that there simply are no books, programmes or resources out there that tell you exactly what an art college is looking to see in a portfolio. I can confirm that no, there aren’t, as there is no concrete answer to ‘what should be in my art portfolio?’ However, Portfolio Oomph was established in 2012 to try to challenge the myths about applying to art college and to provide support for ALL students
preparing an art portfolio. Above all, a successful portfolio should reflect the individual. How can he/she use their interests within their work? Our eBook ‘Creating a sensational portfolio’ is central to exploring your ideas and creativity. Studying this eBook is one way to provide you with the confidence that the creative process is demonstrated in your portfolio in a way that the colleges expect. A portfolio is not only a collection of finished works but the whole process from idea/conception to finished works and all that goes in between. For example, drawing should be seen as something that is integral to the creation of all artworks, not as a separate activity just to prove you can draw. Many people also think that life drawing is essential in a portfolio but unless you really enjoy it and are particularly good at it, then it’s usually not essential. What is essential is that you draw lots of things that you are interested in and are relevant to your ideas. Ultimately drawing demonstrates YOUR response to objects, places, notions/concepts.
We have a great Pinterest page where you see all the images that we discuss in our eBooks and eCourses, you can start to ‘repin’ images that you like. Putting your artwork in context of what is happening in the art world is really important and should not be overlooked; Pinterest can help here, too.
oo olio f t r o
Over the past 9 months we’ve worked on a one to one mentoring basis with a student who had originally been accepted for a degree course in Sociology and Social Policy in 2011, but had a sudden change of heart and declined his place. He wanted to go to art college – Glasgow School of Art specifically, but had no Higher Art, no portfolio and very little experience or contacts that could help him to achieve his ambitions. However, he has now had great news that he has been successful in his application to Glasgow School of Art to study Sculpture and Environmental Art course. Read his full story: www.portfolio-oomph.com/portfolio-oomph/first-success-story So if you’re struggling to provide a creative platform for your child to launch from, one of the places to look at could be Portfolio Oomph with its links, blog and FAQs on the art college application process and development of portfolios.
For more information see www.portfolio-oomph.com
Children Who Read and Write “Late” Having seen this post on the HE Exams list, we felt that it was an encouraging story for all those who are starting out on the Home Ed journey; whether the child is a late reader, or has been scared off reading at school, this kind of personal story helps us all know that children develop at different rates. We were delighted that the author was happy for us to reproduce it here. Of course, sometimes a child reading late actually has a real problem that needs help, so as with everything we print, do think carefully about the message and if it doesn’t sound right for you, then it probably isn’t. One of the first things we learn when we take on our child’s education completely, similar to when they are born, is that we can follow our instincts, as they are usually right.
I’d like to encourage those of you with a child who is struggling with reading and writing. My daughter really struggled with reading and wasn’t reading fluently until the age of about 12. Her spelling was atrocious and at times I thought she was never going to read and write fluently. She has just gone to 6th form and has only just learnt to tell the time on a clock with a face. In year 8 we did GCSE Home Economics Food & Nutrition. It was the last year we could do it from home before controlled assessment. During that year her reading and writing improved massively as she was so intent on getting her coursework exactly right and she loved the subject. By the end of the school year she was editing her own work until it was almost word perfect. She eventually got an overall grade of an A. At the end of that year, I had a conversation with Catherine Mooney about doing iGCSE English. My son had just done GCSE English with NEC and I knew my daughter wasn’t going to cope with 4 lots of coursework, reading the texts and preparing for a speaking exam. I signed Rachel up for iGCSE English Language which she started at the beginning of year 9 and took at the end of year 10. She got a B, 1 mark off an A. She really enjoyed the style of the course and the fact that she could listen to it on CD helped her as well. In year 11 she did Catherine’s English Literature course and got an A. She also did Sam Martells iGCSE Biology course in a year, having done no science to speak of previously, and obtained a B. Rachel got a place this year at a Girls’s Grammar School in Kent. She has ended up doing A/S English Language and Literature because two of her chosen subjects clashed. She says she is top of the class in this subject and she puts that down to being home-educated, where she can think for herself, whereas the other students (who have mostly gained A* at GCSE) seem to have been spoon fed. Rachel isn’t finding it all plain sailing and is struggling with the amount of homework she gets each week. She finds that a lot of time is wasted in class and then homework is piled on at the end of a lesson, although she is enjoying making friends and having teachers at her disposal! Other subjects Rachel did were GCSE Maths (C), iGCSE French (A*) Grade 5 Cello (D) and Piano (M), Grade 4 Music Theory (P) and Portfolios (non-examined) in Photography and Art. So what I really wanted to say was, if your child is seemingly not academic and struggling with their work at top primary/lower secondary level, please don’t despair. It really doesn’t mean they aren’t going to do well later on and following their own interests and strengths is a real help to both their confidence and their academic progress. Mary :)
Experiences Our Meeting with the Local Authority When it comes to the Local Authority, some families choose not to meet them, but to keep contact via letter, perhaps providing a Educational Philosophy or report. Other families are happy to meet the Local Authority representative in their own home. Others still choose to meet the representative at a neutral venue, such as a library. We heard from one family, educating their children autonomously, who chose to meet at a local library to discuss the education of their son.
We just wanted to share with you all that our meeting with the ‘local authority chap’ went well today. Myself, Ethan and Tony (Ethan’s dad) met him at the local library. We gave him a list of memberships we have, regular groups we attend, places we’ve been (just a sample) and Ethan’s interests. The poor man had to work out how to identify key subjects/areas of education from what Ethan told him he has done, what he’s learning to do etc. Ethan was disappointed that he couldn’t take along his ballista or wooden training sword he’d been making over the past week, (the librarian may have had a bit of a fit), but the photos were more than sufficient. At one point the LA rep asked “What does Ethan do for science?” We replied, “Well. . . . he tests everything to destruction; he has learnt how hard is too hard to whack things with his sword before it breaks!” I reckon it’s an excuse to make another one! Interestingly we barely touched on Ethan’s education as such, just his life, but boxes were all ticked and more. The meeting took 40mins. The LA rep did confess he was worried that it might go ‘pear shaped’ because we weren’t meeting at our home and we’re autonomous, however he said he was really impressed with Ethan’s education and had no worries at all! Apparently he sees 220 families a year; looks like we’re keeping him busy! Not that we needed to hear from anybody of ‘authority’ that Ethan’s education is acceptable, but I’m glad it went well and yet another person has seen how our philosophy does work. Home education (real life!) proves itself again!
If you decide you’re happy to meet with the local authority representative but aren’t comfortable having them come to your home, a neutral venue like a library can be a good solution.
Reviews and Recommendations Enjoyed Something Recently? Here at EOS we are always interested in hearing about your favourite books, websites, computer games, DVDs, TV programmes, places to visit, shops and online stores........anything that you think other readers might want to hear about! Please do send them to: email@example.com Don’t forget to let us know if you have a website, blog etc that we can mention as a thank-you!
Home Education Blog Recommendations Angela Dawson wrote to us saying:
“I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know of a few blogs that I have recently discovered and am enjoying... The Gallivanters
Totally married, loves gallivanting, raising a Too Cool For School Trio in West Sussex, England. Living very happily outside the box I never quite fitted in. Everyday I spend 15 minutes chronicling the previous 24 hours in our home educating lives and each post is titled after a great track.
I really admire Katy’s dedication to posting Every. Single. Day. Project Based Homeschooling www.project-based-homeschooling.com/camp-creek-blog
PBH is centered around helping your child direct and manage his own learning. It’s about independence, responsibility, and exploring talents and deep interests. An Ordinary Life
www.anordinary-life.blogspot.co.uk/ A home education blog from a mum of four daughters. Has a science focus.
Both these blogs have lovely sentiments and are crammed full of ideas... Also good is: Grits Day http://gritsday.blogspot.co.uk
‘We educate triplet girls by not sending them to school. Reading this blog may tell you why that beats a path all of its own.’
But my absolute favourite is: The Wonder Farm
http://patriciazaballos.com/blog/ Notes from a homeschooling mama who loves to write and wants others to love it too.”
Angela Dawson www.laidbacklearners.blogspot.com 32
“Telling Tales in Latin” by Lorna Robinson A New Latin Course and Storybook for Children I think this is a fantastic little book! It has illustrations that remind me of Quentin Blake’s for Roald Dahl, which is to say they’re very expressive and colourful. A good point for any reader, but I would expect particularly helpful and attractive to “reluctant readers”. As the sub-title says, it is actually for children, so a review will be available on our website from a 9 year old boy who loves reading and has an interest in Latin. For me as a mother who is interested in the history of English and therefore Latin, I thought it was very well done. It includes many points about grammar and language construction, which is integral to Latin and of course we use in everyday life. The chatty and very supportive way that the narrator takes the reader through each chapter is lively and friendly, I think any reader would feel gently led through and able to learn the basics of what looks like a complicated language. I would suggest it’s more of a group of stories than it is a language course, but then it does introduce the grammar very well and I think would work well alongside the Minimus course - (a well established course for groups of children) - to be a complete course for those wanting to move on in Latin. I’d recommend it for those interested in the history of the English Language, in the Classical stories, and those wanting to look into learning Latin but don’t want to commit too much just yet. At only £10 it is fantastic value and would certainly be an enjoyable read just for the stories and illustrations! If you learn a little Latin and gain a better understand English grammar, then all the better!
BUY ON AMAZON
“A Funny Kind of Education” by Ross Mountney
“The Mousetrap” by Agatha Christie
“This is the story of the excitement, panic and hilarity of life with kids when you home school” is the quote on the back, and indeed it is. I really enjoyed dipping in and out of the stories (I will read it from beginning to end one day!). It has so many “anecdotes” from one family, that it will easily reassure someone new to home education as much as someone more experienced. We all need reassurance at some point in the journey.
It was partly through nostalgia that I decided to take my three children aged 17, 14 and 12 to see The Mousetrap. I first saw it with my mother about 25 years ago in London, and when I saw that it was touring the UK to mark its 60th Anniversary I jumped at the chance to see it again.
I can imagine parts of it being used as “evidence”, anecdotal or otherwise, to show naysayers that children do learn this way, that it can actually be fun to be a home ed family. (I often get asked “but how do you cope?” which I find difficult to answer, as I don’t think I’m coping, I think I’m living!) There are difficulties and struggles to overcome, and telling these stories too also really helps readers to see a normal life that does not include school. A lovely book, by a wellknown blogger and writer, who we are proud to call one of our major supporters and contributors.
BUY ON AMAZON
I had no doubts about my two daughters enjoying it. They’ve both been taking part in drama classes and productions for many years so they were very keen to be the audience in a professional production. However, I wasn’t so sure about how much a teenaged boy, with no interest in the theatre to date, would enjoy a play that was written six decades ago. Would he be able to identify with it in any way? He was willing to give it a try, though, so off we went. I was delighted to see that the play is just as I remembered it. No temptation, then, to ‘bring it up to date’ in any way costumes, set, characters, accents, everything preserved. Which means, therefore, that you take a step back in time to an age before the internet, mobile phones, even television...and in fact the plot depends upon that. It couldn’t possibly work with any of our modern trappings, which made an interesting discussion afterwards. The script also seemed to be the same....the humour somewhat dated, but completely in keeping, and still funny! And he loved it. They all did. They enjoyed the quaintness of mid 20th Century England which the play portrays so well. They laughed at the jokes, got to know the characters and had fun trying to work out who was going to be murdered and, of course, whodunnit! I managed to give nothing away during our interval drinks! They also liked being encouraged as an audience to keep the secret.....so that’s all I shall say on the matter! The Mousetrap’s 60th Anniversary Tour continues well into next year. Go to www.mousetrapontour.com
Education is Compulsory, Schooling is Not The specific legalities of home educating in the UK differ somewhat between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as much as they do in countries throughout the rest of the world. The national organisations listed to the right go into this in detail and are a good place to go if you are unsure or have specific queries. However, some things are clear: YOU DO NOT need to be a qualified teacher to educate your child at home YOU ARE NOT obliged to follow the National Curriculum or take national tests YOU DO NOT need to observe school hours, days or terms YOU DO NOT need to have a fixed timetable, nor give formal lessons THERE IS NO FUNDING directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children THERE IS NO WRONG WAY to home educate. There are many different approaches, from the autonomous or child-led to the highly structured, through a myriad of hybrids in between. In fact it has been said that there are as many different approaches to home education as there are families doing it. With thanks to THEN UK
In England, if you’re thinking of HE, and your children haven’t yet been to school, you don’t need to do anything different. You don’t need to seek permission or register as a home educator. You can just keep them home and carry on learning as you have been doing! If they are at school, you need to legally deregister them. You do this by writing to the head teacher. Have a look at the national websites listed opposite for sample letters. You don’t need permission and you don’t need to give any notice - you can either post or hand deliver the letter and begin home education on the same day. Nothing else is required of you in law. You are the parent, you are responsible for your child’s education, as you are responsible for other aspects of their life. The school is obliged to inform the Local Authority that you have taken your children out of school to educate them yourself. The LA will probably make contact. Different LAs approach home educating families in different ways, but the government has produced guidelines which detail how they should behave. It is probably a good idea to check out the national HE websites or Facebook groups, or make contact with local home educators, for advice on how to respond. Do some research, read books, websites and blogs. Make contact with other home educators. Find out the myriad ways that people educate their children and gradually you will find the way that suits your family best.
* The above represents a brief overview of the general situation but cannot be taken as a definitive statement of law. As with anything, always do your research. Look on the main national home ed websites on the right for specific legal information and take legal advice if you feel it is necessary.
Websites and Groups
There are many home education groups, national and local, all over the UK. Most websites and lists are full of very valuable free information provided by other home educators. A few charge a subscription. EOS Magazine is not affiliated to and does not recommend any particular group over another and they have been listed in no particular order - please use your own discretion and follow your own home ed path! Any omissions are purely due to our own human fallibility! The groups and websites listed below are nowhere near exhaustive - they are simply the ones we are aware of who have given us permission to publish their details.
Please let us know if your group’s details change or you would like it removed. If you run a group or website and would like us to feature it here please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EducationOutsideSchool
National Websites AHEd
Action for Home Education www.ahed.org.uk
www.edyourself.org The home education consultancy.
Education Otherwise www.education-otherwise.org
Freedom In Education
Home Education in the UK - Special Educational Needs www.he-special.org.uk
The Home Education Network www.thenuk.com
Regional Websites and Groups North East North Yorkshire
www.nyhe.co.uk http://groups.yahoo.com/group/henney/ (Home Education Network North East Yorkshire). A monthly meeting in a local village hall and a monthly meeting out and about somewhere in the local area
East Midlands Leicestershire
Home Education UK www.home-education.org.uk
Home Education in Northern Ireland www.hedni.org
Home Education Advisory Service
Home Education in the UK
Home Educated Youth Council
An independent voice for home educated young people heyc.org.uk
A site aimed particularly at the Under 10s. www.muddlepuddle.co.uk
For home education in Scotland www.schoolhouse.org.uk
South West Bristol
Wales North West
West Midlands www.worcestershire-home-educators. co.uk
Isle of Wight
South East Home Educators (SEHE) Ayahoo group covering the South East, with regular meets in Tunbridge Wells and other events in Kent and Sussex. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ southeasthomeeducators/
The Freedom Journey
A closed group for Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Others who in general are interested in the Care and Freedom of children and alternative ways of Parenting and Educating. Request to join here:www.facebook.com/ groups/Freedomparents/
UK Home Education
A closed group for people home educating or considering home educating their children in the UK. For sharing stories and resources, asking for support, discussions on LA’s and EHE’s plus general home ed (sometimes not) related conversations. Request to join here:www.facebook.com/ groups/UKHed/
Education Outside School Magazine Home Education in Action www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk
© Karen Rodgers www.educationchoice.org
© Viv Manning
Published on Oct 21, 2013
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